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Post by Tirumalai Kamala:

Sunday, March 8, 2015, precious Goldie, our five-year old guinea pig, dies. At 8AM, her body’s still warm and soft to the touch. Declining for months, the previous night, she’d finished her final syringe-fed meal at 11PM. Carefully check her bandaged feet, place her back in her box, tuck soft towels around her body. She’d needed their extra warmth the last two days. Dignified and valiant til the end, she’s in the same position. Blow softly on her face. She doesn’t blink, her face calm and peaceful. Passed away quietly in her sleep. A Sunday, like April 28, 2012, when four-year old guinea pig, Eva, died. Is a local pet crematorium open on Sunday?

That Sunday in 2012 Terry entered the picture as a prosaic yes answer. With a voice like Johnny Carson and a striking resemblance to Harrison Ford, Terence L. McGlashan, Terry, is certainly physically blessed. He’s also kind, compassionate, professional and decent to the core. That’s how I remembered Terry until Goldie died and he became much more memorable. Terry owns and operates the open-on-week-ends Pine Castle Pet Cremation Service (Pine Castle Pet Cremation Services – About – Google+,Pine Castle Pet Cremation Service in Orlando , FL).

We are rightfully taught to not judge a book by its covers. Located in a nondescript industrial park, this two-room business with its non-functioning web-site is a world removed from the Taj Mahal-like opulence of much fancier pet crematoria. Call Terry at 11:30AM. He’s out of town, only back that evening! What to do? Not to worry. Terry offers to drive straight from the airport to his office. Turn into the dark industrial park at 8:30PM. Clad in overalls, Terry’s already there.

Theoretically a simple few minutes transaction. Hand over Goldie, pay for her cremation, get receipt and certificate, leave. Yet we only leave at 10PM. With Goldie’s final journey book-ended by the electronic transponder pings on the highway toll gates, I even have the exact times. Why so long? Terry’s remarkable and genuine compassion. First, gently asks about Goldie. What happened? How did she die? We talk about Goldie, about his funny and macabre experiences in the funeral business. Then, time and privacy for final grieving. He’d gone to a Marshall, Minnesota, funeral parlor to help install the electric crematorium his company manufactures. Job done, he’d driven 153 miles back to the airport in Minneapolis, flown back to Orlando, driven straight to his office in the night to take care of precious Goldie. Such a grueling schedule and yet Terry selflessly prioritized grieving strangers late in the night. Who does that in this day and age? Scratch that. In any age! Sometimes it seems most human interactions these days are transactions, usually monetary. How fortunate then to meet this exceptionally kind and compassionate man. Terry has extraordinary strength to still retain so much genuine empathy after 31 years in the agonizingly demanding funeral business, to so effortlessly absorb a stranger’s sorrow like a sponge.  Terry, veritable angel in human form, you didn’t merely help me grieve the loss of beloved Eva and Goldie, you bolstered my faith in human kindness. Old soul. True mensch.

The remarkable Terence L. McGlashans of our world give life and death the meaning they deserve